REVIEW: Cheetahmen (1991, Action 52/NES) *100th ARTICLE!!!*

Every once in a while, there comes a game that is so relentlessly, unabashedly awful that it manages to go down in the history books. Action 52 is one of those games.

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Noted for attempting to break the mold by featuring 52 titles in one cartridge, the game was the brainchild of aspiring developer Vince Perri and his studio Active Enterprises, and was released for the NES in 1991 followed by a 1993 Sega Genesis port, with a planned SNES port getting scrapped. While AE had remarkably high hopes for the game, literally everything but success barged through their door when the time came for the big release as extremely poor word of mouth spread throughout. That’s not to say that they’re wrong, though – in fact, they’re pretty much dead on, as the game itself is simply atrocious. From glitchy and in some cases completely unplayable titles, retina-assaulting visuals, and much, much more, it’s no wonder why Action 52 has went on to become one of the shining beacons of horrible video games. With that said, there’s one game that stands out more significantly than the rest, said game being Cheetahmen.

cheetahmen_title_screen 

(NOTE: This is the title screen of the Genesis version. The NES version doesn’t have a title screen, though it does have an opening cutscene.)

In what could best be described as AE’s attempt to cash in on the immense popularity surrounding the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the game follows a trio of anthropomorphic cheetahs, two of which named after ancient Greek gods (GOLLY GEE GOSH, I SURE DO WONDER WHO COULD HAVE INFLUENCED THAT IDEA!?) named Hercules, Apollo, and Aries, as they valiantly battle to thwart the dastardly plot of the mad scientist Dr. Morbis. With that out of the way, can these ferocious felines possibly offer any sort of redemption to such a catastrophe of a game, or was their placement as the very last title an indication that AE saved the “best” for last? Let’s find out, shall we?

cheetahmen

THE LOOKS

Well, one thing’s for sure; they haven’t eased on the godawful visuals by a LOOOOOONG shot. The best way that I can describes the graphics is that they look less like an NES game and more like an Atari 2600 game that was given a makeover to include a tiny bit of detail. In addition to that, the character sprites are some of the worst that I’ve ever seen in an NES game. Not only is it difficult to make out what a majority of them are even supposed to be, they all look lazily and sloppily designed, some of them often flickering most of the time. But you wanna know what the worst part about this is? The graphics are just the least of the problems here…

You hear that obnoxiously repetitive tune above? Well, you better get used to it, because that is literally ALL THAT YOU’LL BE HEARING THROUGHOUT THE GAME. The NES Rocky and Bullwinkle game, while worse on a technical level, at least changed the tunes around for a few levels. But that’s not even the most insulting part! In the sequel (trust me, I’ll get around to ripping that piece of crap a new one at a later date), THEY DO THE EXACT SAME THING!! There’s being cheap, and then there’s…I don’t even know how to describe this!

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THE GAMEPLAY

On paper, the gameplay isn’t complex by any means. It’s your typical side-scrolling platformer with some elements of a beat ’em up thrown in for good measure, with some levels having you shift control to another Cheetahman, whether it be the the club-wielding Aries (who you start off with), the bow and arrow-wielding Apollo, or the muscular Hercules. In execution, however, it is literally broken far beyond possible description. First off, the controls are horrible. Not only are they incredibly stiff and clunky, but they can also be barely responsive at times. The level design is tepid through and through, offering nothing to stand out from the rest of the NES library while being boring and bland at best to infuriatingly tedious at worst. Add in some cruddy hit detection and all of the other aforementioned issues, and you’re left with one sad mess.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Action 52 has rightfully earned its’ status as one of the worst video games ever made, and Cheetahmen only enforces that fact even more with its’ hideous visuals, remarkably lazy soundtrack (if you can even call it that) and gameplay that brings one of the most legendary video game consoles of all time to a whole new low. Simply put, avoid it and Action 52 as a whole like the plague. Now if you excuse me, I’ll be busy taking up an occupation as a poacher in the savanna.

THE RETR0PIA RANKING

F

BONUS QUESTION: What do you love the most about Thanksgiving?

Also, thank you all for ONE HUNDRED ARTICLES! Here’s to another one hundred!

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15 Comments

  1. To think that a game like Action 52 is highly sought after and collectible is a bit funny and ridiculous, right? I’ve seen a copy or two at game swaps every so often with a whopping price tag. My boyfriend used to have it as a kid and he has no idea what happened to it, much to his dismay. We almost managed to acquire a copy of it along with a lot of other really rare NES games last year, but everything fell through at the last minute. It was almost a blessing in disguise!

    I haven’t played Cheetahmen, but there’s a sick part of me that wants to despite all the horrible things you’ve mentioned here. I love experiencing the bad with the good, and I can honestly say that if the game came up for the right price, I might just buy it. Sigh. I have a sickness.

    Congratulations on 100 posts! I’m looking forward to seeing 100 more from you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A game I’m going to stay far away from, lol

    Congrats on 100 articles, and I look forward to reading your next 100 🙂 I love the turkey best on Thanksgiving. So delicious. We had our Thanksgiving last month and I’m sort of jealous… but happy Thanksgiving to all my American neighbours anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 100 articles whoohoo! I love these status posts. I’m too absentminded to do them, so I love when others are way more on the ball.

    I’m a dessert loving kind of lady so I love the apple pie and wine part of dinner. I just bought a crumb top today when I picked up my easy to make Thanksgiving dinner from the store (I’m also a too lazy/tired to cook kind of lady hehe). Can. Not. Wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah man, did you pick a winner here! This is one of those works that somehow transcends generations with its sheer awfulness despite paradoxically being a product of its time. It’s a pretty impressive feat. It shows why it almost never pays to follow a trend for its own sake. I get the feeling if I ever played it, I’d think it’s even worse than Metal Morph.

    Weirdly, I heard the music that features in Cheetahmen was popular enough to spawn several fan (I’m using that term loosely) remixes on Japanese video streaming sites.

    Anyway, congratulations on reaching 100 articles!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never even heard of Action 52, but part of me is morbidly curious and I want to check it out just to see how bad it is, haha! Congrats on 100 posts by the way! And to answer your bonus question, my favorite part of Thanksgiving (besides the awesome food) is spending time with my family. I have a big family and it’s fun when we all get together and hang out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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